US factory readings mixed but growth continues

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The US manufacturing sector expanded at its fastest pace in years in October despite a partial government shutdown during the first half of the month, according to one industry report, though a separate reading cast doubt on the strength of factory activity growth.

The Institute for Supply Management said yesterday its index of national factory activity rose to 56.4 in October, its best showing since April 2011.

Financial data firm Markit said its final US Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index stood at 51.8 last month, beating the preliminary October reading but notching the worst final showing since October 2012.

Both figures indicated expansion in the manufacturing sector and ISM’s figure beat expectations of a slight slowdown in the growth rate.

The two surveys use some different methodologies, including one related to seasonal adjustment.

Treasuries prices sagged after the ISM data, while the US dollar extended gains against both the euro and the yen.

“The underlying components were a little mixed, but for the most part, this report continued to point to strength in the factory sector,” said RBS analysts in a note about the ISM figures.

“It seems like the shutdown did little to dampen the underlying strength in manufacturing in October.”

Analysts expected weaker readings after a political stalemate in Washington forced a partial federal government shutdown through the first 16 days of October.

Last month was the fifth in a row of quicker growth in the goods-producing sector, according to ISM’s data.

The figures came a day after a report showed business activity in the US Midwest surged past expectations in October as new orders hit their highest level since 2004.

Weekly unemployment claims also fell, in welcome news for the nation’s battered labour mar- ket.

Still, the mixed results in the two factory readings yesterday underscored lingering uncertainty over the state of the world’s largest economy.

Earlier this week the Federal Reserve suggested it still sees a need for stimulus and maintained its $85bn (£53.4bn) per month bond-buying programme to prop up the economy.

Job growth in the broader US economy was tepid in September, and economists polled by Reuters expect a government report due on November 8 to show hiring slowed further in October.